When will you get your last ever magazine ad rep calling?

A contributor to a chat group for PR consultants which I run recently posted a communication from a well-known industrial magazine, which said that from now on the publication “will give editorial preference to those companies who are supporting us whether this is through display advertising or colour separation revenue”.

As someone who edited industrial magazines, in print and online, for nearly twenty years, I’m not sure how to take this. If, as an editor, the companies whose news you’re allowed to cover is restricted, your magazine will be significantly worse for it. If it’s restricted to companies willing to pay for the privilege of being included, you’re probably losing 90% of your potential news sources at the moment. Quite frankly, as an independent commentary on the industry, your publication will be rubbish.

Now, either the readers care about this, or they don’t. If they care, and start to think: “The stories in this magazine are a lot less interesting than they used to be”, they’ll probably stop unwrapping the magazine. If they don’t care, they must be very bored people, who I imagine the few remaining advertisers will be increasingly less interested in.

Or there’s a third possibility – that hardly anyone is unwrapping and reading the magazine anyway, and the publisher knows that, but is quite aware that the remaining advertisers aren’t monitoring response and just stick ads in so they can tick off another job done.

Whatever the case, I suspect the number of sales calls you’re going to be getting from magazine advertising reps is going to continue to reduce over the next few years, probably to nothing. That’s very sad, but the people concerned have been the architects of their own demise.

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